Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Shortbread-Like Cookies

Scott’s been speaking lately of shortbread. Although in a Disney household like ours, we frequently refer to it as “shorts-bread”. If you’ve had the shorts-shaped shortbreads (Say that 5 times fast!) from the Disney parks, you’ll know the deliciousness to which I refer.

I have this coconut flour, which is really cool stuff. So I figured I’d try my hand at something at least resembling shortbread. And while I’m in the same city as shortbread, and perhaps in the next neighborhood over, these didn’t quite make it. Although they’re pretty darned tasty.

As usual, I cobbled together a recipe based on various things found online. And based on what I have in my own kitchen.

First I mixed the dry ingredients: coconut flour, almond meal, whey powder, salt, baking powder, and a little xanthan gum. A lot of the online recipes have more than one flour in there — in addition to the coconut flour, I’ve seen wheat flour, rice flour, millet flour, barley flour, quinoa flour, and even teff flour. What the what is teff flour? There’s the wikipedia entry. I’d prefer to call it lovegrass flour. But alas, I don’t have any of those other flours. So I used what I had.

Both the coconut flour and the almond meal are from Bob’s Red Mill. I also got a bag of coconut flour from the oddly-named Let’s Do…Organic!, which I haven’t cracked open yet. The LDO is a noticeably coarser grain than the Bob’s — a little finer than my almond meal, while the Bob’s is powdery like real flour.

I added both whey powder and xanthan gum because they both have emulsifying properties, which are helpful when you’re not using gluten. You could totes leave either one out. Or both. Whatevs.

I don’t own a sifting device. My colanders all have holes way to big to sift with. So I just mixed the dry stuff up with a fork, and smashed the really obvious lumps. I’m a totally cautious baker, yo.

Next step: wet stuff. I creamed the butter, sweetener (Splenda), and vanilla extract. Man, that vanilla had the Splenda dissolving right away. It kind of hissed and bubbled. Disturbing, but cool.

Add the eggs to the creamed butter/sweet/nilla goo. I think I was probably supposed to add them one at a time, but I just tossed all three in together and blended it up. Did I say I was cautious? Oh yeah.

Some recipes would have you roll out your dough. This stuff was too sticky. And I was too impatient (and cautious) to chill the dough in the fridge, like you would with a butter cookie. So instead, I gave it the peanut butter cookie treatment — rolled it into balls with my hands, then smooshed them down flat.

I tried a row without the rolling, just slopping a wad of dough onto the baking sheet and flattening. Hey, this is a test batch. Best to try all possible methods, to find the laziest most cautious method possible.

Oh, and hey — I tried to smoosh them flat with a drinking glass. The dough stuck. Drinking glass with plastic wrap on it, covered in butter? Likewise stuck. So I used my good ol’ hands. My veiny, tendon-rific hands. I never though I’d lose so much weight in my hands. Weird.

And there they are, little cookies! Two dozen, approximately 2″ across. They didn’t spread much at all, they just rose a little bit. So smooshing was definitely the way to go. As you can see, some of these are a slightly different color — I did 16 cookies normally, then added some cinnamon and allspice to the rest of the dough. So 8 of them are sort of spiced. But I didn’t use quite enough spice.

Recipe time!
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp whey protein powder (about a half-scoop)
1/4 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup sweetener (sugar/Splenda/whatevs)
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

(Optional spices: 1 Tbsp cinnamon [or a mix of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and so on that adds up to a tablespoon] and/or some extract or other flavoring. If I were doing an all-cinnamon batch, I’d probably use 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp allspice, and 1 tsp liquid cinnamon flavoring.)

Mix the first 6 ingredients (the dry stuff). Then cream the butter, sweetener, and vanilla together (remember, sugar is a “wet” ingredient). Add the eggs, mix. Then gradually add the dry mix to the wet stuff (I did it in 3 parts).

Roll into balls (or not, depending on your personal caution level) and smash down to 1/4-inch high or so. Use a non-stick baking sheet, or parchment paper, or a silicon pad. These are buttery, but I still worry about stickitude.

Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350° F.

So they’re softer than shortbread — fairly cakey for cookies. In fact, one might even call them snickerdoodleish. But they’re really tasty. And I bet they’d be even tastier with the cream cheese frosting I used in my cookie sandwiches. Because everything’s better with frosting! OR, you could embrace the snickerdoodleishness, and roll them in some cinnamon/sweetener mix before baking. NOM.

A Bouncing Baby Ukulele

I got a new musical instrument last week. It’s like a couple of musical instruments I already have, but it’s SO SO different.

My new baby is the center instrument — a Kala Makala concert ukulele. “Concert” is a size — the next size up from soprano, which is the smallest of the ukes. The right-hand ukulele is a soprano, my old cheap Johnson (my, that sounds a little dirty). I felt ready to move up to something that sounds better and is a little higher quality. Mind you, this concert is pretty cheap still. The Johnson soprano was around $25, this Kala concert is $50. Although I got a package deal, which included the ukulele, a really nice padded bag, and an electric tuner. The tuner alone is worth the package price.

I got it locally at George’s Music, a chain with stores in Florida and Pennsylvania. What a weird mix. Anyhoo, they had a much better selection of ukuleles than our local Guitar Center, Sam Ash, and that creepy independent place by the freeway combined. Plus, they had a little one-hour Ukulele 101 class, which I forced Scott to attend. Either he’ll start playing with me, or he’ll get a comic out of it, or both. I’m hoping for both.

I also did a little IKEA hacking here. Instead of paying 15 bucks each for guitar and uke wall hangers, I got shelf brackets for 50 cents each. Two for each instrument, and that’s three bucks for my display wall. Works for me!

Here you can also admire some of our books and DVDs, as well as the collection of fezzes and Mexican wrestling masks. And my American Idol Experience lanyard. FUN! Also, for the curious, my guitar is a student size, because I have tiny girl hands.

Anyhoo, you may wonder how the new uke sounds. It sounds GREAT! You can really tell the difference in quality. Although I wouldn’t scoff at little Johnson; he’s been a great uke, and I’ll still play him. My very first uke (which died years ago when two tuning pegs broke the same week) was a super-cheap yellow floral job, and until it broke, it still sounded OK. I’ve already told Scott that if I had unlimited space and budget, we’d have a massive collection of ukuleles.

If you’re interested in learning to play, you could do worse than finding music to play at Dr. Uke, printing out the Ukulele Lady’s chord chart (although I prefer Dr. Uke’s D-chord) and visiting the massive archive at Ultimate Guitar for the chords to your favorite rock/pop songs.

The Best Roller Skating Movies Ever Made

I dig roller skating. And yes, there are movies all about roller skating, like Roll Bounce and Roller Boogie. But I really prefer movies that are about other things (political wranglings, dystopian futures) that just happen to have a boatload of roller skating involved. So here are three recently-viewed movies full of craptacular magic on 8 wheels.

#3: Rollerball (1975) – I haven’t seen the 2002 remake. I don’t think I want to see it, so the total cheese of the 1975 version remains at the forefront of my memory. James Caan as a sports hero? A moustachioed lotharo named Moonpie? And a roller skating game that ends in death? It’s all pretty awesome. My main problem is that there’s a lot of slow, slow portions. It’s almost as if Stanley Kubrick directed it. They could have cut a half-hour of boredom out of this movie, and it would have been so much better.

#2: Xanadu (1980) – We just got this via the Netflix. I hadn’t seen it for probably 20 years, at least. I remember loving it as a kid. There’s a lot of charming quaintness in this movie — the leading man’s job is to paint giant reproductions of record album covers for record stores. The movie takes place in a perfect movie version of Los Angeles, where all roads are smooth and skatable, and even the streets near the abandoned auditorium don’t have an ounce of grit or gravel to impede the skating. What I didn’t remember from my youth is that for every five lines of corny dialog, we then get a 10-minute music/dance/skate sequence. The music remains awesome, thanks to the 70s/80s majesty of ELO. But the leading man was an irritating wimp who needed a haircut, and I found it very strange that an artist’s unspoken dream would be to open up a roller disco.

#1: Solarbabies (1986) – This movie is, for me, an 80s classic. It contains a bevy of 80s teen stars, like Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, Peter DeLuise, and Lukas Haas. Not to mention a side character played by Adrian Pasdar, better known as Nathan Pedretti on Heroes. It even has the ever-creepy Richard Jordan as the scenery-chewing bad guy, Grock. The Solarbabies are a group of “orphans” living in an “orphanage” (I use quotes because apparently, the’re not actually orphans; they’ve been taken from their families to be raised in a government facility) in a futuristic desert (water is strictly regulated by said goverment) where all desert roads are smooth and skatable, and even the path through the desolate wasteland doesn’t have an ounce of grit or gravel to impede the skating.

The Solarbabies gang find a magical orb, and go on a fabulous journey. It ranges from a Bartertown-esque city to an underground cave city to the secret government water stronghold. And what amazing characters! Besides the handsome boy and the pretty girl, we have the tech guy with glasses, the chubby guy, the black guy, and their much-younger mascot friend. A marvelous motley crew! And let’s not forget the stirring synth soundtrack from 80s favorite Maurice Jarre.

To this day, I can’t not watch this movie. If I see it’s going to be on one of the weird crap-movie channels (we have one called “THIS” here in Orlando that always plays terrible films) I have to record it. I’ve probably seen this movie over a dozen times, just in grabbing it from random TV showings.

What other roller skating movies are out there? I tried to watch Whip It, and found it just as boring as the source book. Should I check out the 2002 Rollerball? Does it suck or rock? I’m all for corn and cheese, so bring on the badness!